Sporting Kansas City heads to the Lonestar State to lock horns with the Houston Dynamo on Saturday at PNC Stadium. The match will begin at 7:30 p.m. CT with coverage on 38 The Spot kicking things off 30-minutes prior to kickoff. Three hours of Sporting KC content can be found on either 38 The Spot, in the Sporting KC Mobile App or online at SportingKC.com.
Saturday marks the third meeting in the 2022 calendar year between the two Western Conference rivals. Sporting hosted Houston in their home opener on March 5 and welcomed them back to Children's Mercy Park on May 25 in the US Open Cup Round of 16. With victories in both, the Kansas City side will look to pull off a clean sweep of the Dynamo throughout the 2022 campaign.
Here are five things to know heading into this weekend's MLS regular season showdown between Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo.
Lucky number 13
The Dynamo joined Major League Soccer in 2006 setting the stage for 16 seasons of MLS regular season battles against Sporting Kansas City. Saturday will be the 40th regular season match between Kansas City and Houston since '06 and the series could not be more even. Not only do both teams have 13 wins over the other side, there have also been 13 total draws. The closeness does not stop there as both sides have scored 54 goals against one another.
Thanks to a recent surge of success against the Dynamo, Sporting has equaled the results. Sporting are 8-3-1 in their last 12 regular season meetings against Houston dating back to 2018. The competitive nature between the two clubs is not only limited to regular season competition.
Since 2011, Sporting has faced Houston 41 times in all competitions, more than any other opponent. It has been a successful stretch for Sporting, outperforming the Dynamo with an 18-13-10 record in that time span. Earlier this season, Sporting knocked Houston out of the Open Cup Round of 16 thanks to a second half brace from forward Johnny Russell. That matchup was the sixth Open Cup duel between Sporting and Houston and fifth in the last six renditions of the tournament. With that win, Sporting is 3-2-1 against Houston in the Open Cup and that lone draw produced a Sporting KC shootout victory. As a product of all those consequential clashes, a rivalry has emerged between Sporting and Houston.
Three in a row
Sporting will make the trek to Houston for the first time since May 12, 2021, and will look to avenge a 1-0 loss despite taking 11 more attempts than the hosts through that road test. Following that defeat, Sporting met the Dynamo on the pitch twice more throughout the 2021 season, handing them a 3-2 defeat as well as a 4-2 thumping. With two straight wins in 2021 and two straight wins this year, Sporting has won four in a row in all competitions, three straight MLS contests and four of their last five in MLS play dating back to Sept. 5, 2020.
Leading the charge in this run has been Russell who, as mentioned above, netted the two goals in the second half of the Open Cup match this season to hamper Houston's Open Cup hopes. In 12 appearances against the Dynamo, the Scottsman has tallied seven goals and three assists. Sporting has never beaten Houston in four consecutive MLS matches but will have the chance on Saturday facing an uncertain Houston side.
A new sheriff in town
Monday it was announced that former Sporting Kansas City midfielder Paulo Nagamura was out as the Dynamo head coach after being announced as the boss ahead of the 2022 season. Along with Nagamura, former Sporting KC goalkeeper and Sporting Legends Honoree Jimmy Nielsen as well as former Sporting KC II assistant coach Chris Martinez were relieved of duties at the Dynamo. Kenny Bundy the Dynamo Dos head coach has stepped up into the interim head coaching spot after leading the second team to a second-place finish in the MLS NEXT Pro Frontier Division.
Sporting KC II faced Dynamo Dos on three occasions, picking up a win in Houston, the club's only home defeat. Bundy inherits a team in 14th place in the Western Conference but with a talented roster. He will make his debut in charge of the first team on Saturday.
Who is Houston
Despite occupying last place in the Western Conference, Houston is a sneaky team with a talented roster. Mexican National Team Captain Hector Herrera in July and has started six of eight appearances, adding one assist. Designated Player and forward Sebastian Ferreira leads Houston with 10 goals and has three assists. The Paraguayan is in his first season with Houston. MLS veteran Darwin Quintero has turned in a solid season, accumulating seven goals and four assists, leading the club in goal contributions.
As a club, the Dynamo have won just one of their last eight matches. That one win did come against current Supporters' Shield leaders LAFC in a brave 2-1 victory at PNC Stadium on Aug. 31. Ferreira converted a penalty in the 13th and Griffin Dorsey found the winner in the second half after LAFC equalized in the 19th. At home, the Dynamo are 5-5-4 with 20 goals scored and 18 goal concessions. When trailing at the half, the Dynamo are 0-8-2 compared to 8-8-3 when tied or leading.
Sporting is out in search of their fifth result in their last six matches after finding their stride late in the season. Riding the momentum from a draw in LA, and two consecutive wins prior to that, Sporting will look to spoil Bundy's introduction as the interim coach of the Dynamo on Saturday.